Whatever improvements need to be made, the AfDB should have one mission: to serve Africa, according to Cristina Duarte, Minister of Finance and Planning for Cabo Verde. Interview with Hichem Ben Yaïche.
If appointed, what would be your first action as president?
The AfDB is a complex organisation in that it is both a development and investment bank. The president’s primary concern is to mobilise the organisation as it is around a single objective and vision. To do this, it is necessary to listen to all of AfDB’s stakeholders, in particular the Bank’s staff. One must prioritise the creation of an environment of dialogue, internal analysis and collaboration.
Why would you make a good president?
As Finance Minister, I worked in a firm manner, but at the same time in a participatory one. I practised with conviction, mobilising and motivating the entire team of the Ministry. I had the opportunity to exercise this authority in dialogue with all, but while maintaining a focus on vision.
What needs to be changed in the way the AfDB operates for it to help
Africa really take off?
Africa has already taken off. So it is rather a question of sustaining momentum. Africa got the ball rolling through a combination of external and internal factors. African governments are adopting good governance practices. The primary responsibility for Africa’s take-off, and the sustainability of this take-off, lies primarily with Africans, particularly democratically elected governments.
Can you give a concrete example of something AfDB does that other development banks do not?
AfDB has played a catalyst role. It has added an African perspective to Africa’s development. By prioritising this perspective, the AfDB is increasingly contributing to a sense of ownership on the part of African governments, but also on the part of African societies.
The Bank’s strategy for 2013–2022 has been adopted. In this context, how can the new president pursue his or her own ideas and priorities?
I have been governor of the AfDB since 2006. I was involved in this strategy and approved it. This means that for the next president, the roadmap is a good starting point. There is no need to put another on the table. It is more a question of seeing how quickly we can transfer this strategy, which has already been prepared, into a plan of action.
The decentralisation strategy has been criticised for being expensive and inefficient. Do you intend to continue it?
The next president should initiate an evaluation of this process not in order to eliminate it but improve it and make it more efficient, to turn it into an instrument that allows us to do more with fewer resources so as to consolidate the Bank’s sustainability.